Tuesday, July 24, 2012

5 Volunteers Stand Directly Under An Exploding Nuclear Bomb

Five Air Force officers stand at ground zero of an atomic bomb test at a Nevada test site on July 19, 1957.

Five Men At Atomic Ground Zero

On July 19, 1957, five men stood at Ground Zero of an atomic test that was being conducted at the Nevada Test Site. This was the test of a 2KT (kiloton) MB-1 nuclear air-to-air rocket launched from an F-89 Scorpion interceptor. The nuclear missile detonated 10,000 ft above their heads.

A reel-to-reel tape recorder was present to record their experience. You can see and hear the men react to the shock wave moments after the detonation.

The placard reading "Ground Zero; Population Five" was made by Colonel Arthur B. "Barney" Oldfield, the Public Information Officer for the Continental Air Defense Command in Colorado Spring who arranged for the volunteers to participate. 

The five volunteers were:
Colonel Sidney Bruce
Lt. Colonel Frank P. Ball (technical advisor to the Steve Canyon tv show)
Major Norman "Bodie" Bodinger
Major John Hughes
Don Lutrel

and George Yoshitake, the cameraman (who wasn't a volunteer)

Operation Upshot-Knothole ANNIE Nuclear Test, 1953

Atomic bomb test ANNIE, March 17, 1953. This footage is interesting because the audio is more or less unedited. The timing between seeing the explosion and hearing the blast wave is off by a few seconds, which is how it would be in reality for an observer at that distance (because light travels much faster than sound). All together the audio is great here, so put on some headphones and experience it as if you were actually there.

"In an effort to calm public fears about weapons testing, Annie was an "open shot" -- civilian reporters were permitted to view it from News Nob, 11 kilometers south of the shot-tower. Annie was a weapon development test, it was an experimental device (code named XR3) that provided additional information to normalize the yield-vs-initiation time curve. It was a Mk-5 HE assembly using a Type D pit, and used a betatron for external initiation (the third such test). Total device weight was 2700 lb, predicted yield was 15-20 kt." (http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/Usa/Tests/Upshotk.html)

Video source: US National Archives (http://research.archives.gov/description/25979), created by the US Department of Defense (public domain). I have trimmed off some less interesting footage from the original (an interview with a general, some helicopters) as well as a second of the beginning of the tape.

No comments: